Zuraida: Locals not keen to work in plantations despite lucrative income

A shortage of workers has affected the harvest of oil palm in the country. — Reuters pic
A shortage of workers has affected the harvest of oil palm in the country. — Reuters pic

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JITRA, Oct 16 —The relatively lucrative income offered for plantation workers, especially during the harvesting period, is still not able to attract locals, said Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin.

As a result, she said, there was shortage of workers  and this affect the harvest, especially in oil palm plantations.

“We do not have enough workers for the harvesting period, locals can do the job if they want to, but they say it is a heavy and difficult task.

“The salary of these farm workers is lucrative and actually depends on the company, some pay a basic salary of RM1,200 and plus the incentives and overtime allowance, they can get more than RM2,000 a month,” she told reporters after visiting the Kenaf Seed Processing Center in Bandar Darul Aman near here today.

To address the shortage of workers, she said, the government had recently decided to bring in 32,000 foreigners to work in the plantation sector.

Meanwhile, Zuraida said the entry of foreign workers needed to be expedited to increase the country’s exports as the price of the commodity was now increasing despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If we do not bring foreign workers to harvest the oil palm, the fruits will be left to waste and we will lose. Given the high price of the commodity,  we have to ‘catch up’ and the smallholders will get more income.

“The price of palm oil is expected to increase by about 40 per cent and it can give a return of about RM20 billion to the country before the end of this year,” she said. — Bernama

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